New to BitD and a few general questions

  1. I see that there are blades, heavy weapons, missile weapons, etc. I haven’t seen a mechanical effect of any of them. Am I missing it? Why have a heavy weapon?

  2. Playbook specific items - For each playbook there are some unique items listed to the left of the standards. Do those characters have the option of choosing those items at will or is it triggered by something?

  3. Are there other potential starting situations besides the one in the book?


Hello, @Izrador

  1. There is no “hard mechanical” effect in itens by design. For example: you can’t lockpick a door without a lockpick kit, thus the kit gives you the possibility of lockpicking stuff. I guess for a mechanical effect, the quality of the item increases / decreases the effect of actions. Why have a large weapon is really up to the players: maybe you consider that intimidating with one would have better effect, or trying to break a machinery apart would require one. Blades focus more on “interpretation” than “hard mechanics”, so you can think “Why would I need a large weapon in the real world? Where could I use it?”.

  2. They have the option of choosing them at will, provided they can carry it.

  3. You can begin a game in any way you like. The starting situation in the book (War at Crow’s Nest) is just an example. If I were to make my own, I would ask a lot of questions during character creation to the players: “How are things in the district you set your base? Why does this gang dislikes you (the one they choose when taking an upgrade)? What are your objectives? What do you know about this place / NPC / gang? Because of your background, is your rival is still after you?” And so on. Use these answers as a indication of “fronts” you can explore in the starting situation. Of course, if you just want examples of starting situations, I believe you can find a few around this forum or through the internet.

About the starting situation, one read I personally recommend is page 34+ ( Worldbuilding:Ask Questions, Leave Blanks ) from Dungeon World Guide. While this is a guide for another system, it focus more on a general approach to PtbA (Powered by the Apocalypse) rpgs, a system BitD is deeply based on.

To be honest I recommend the whole guide, haha, but page 34 through 37 is more aligned with your questions. For the record, PtbA action results 10+, 9-7 and 6- are basically BitD’s 6+, (5, 4) and (3, 2, 1) results.

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Items and weapons in Blades are simply viewed as part of the fiction. They matter in the story we’re creating – but we get to decide how much. Often this plays out in the position/effect discussion during an action roll.

Say a cutter finds himself facing a hull, and the gm says, "This thing is massive and covered in articulated steel plating. Its legs lift and fall, driven by some massive internal mechanisms that you can’t see. It lumbers toward you, and you see its huge steel arms are fitted with blades that it begins to swing at you. What do you do? "

If the cutter says, “I draw my knife and leap forward to slash it across the leg,” the gm might very well set position and effect to desperate/zero effect. (The cutter is putting himself at great risk by getting in close to this extremely dangerous opponent, and also attacking with a weapon that won’t do any real damage to the hull).

Instead the cutter might say, “I came in with a heavy load, looking like I’m going to war – and part of that is because of the pole axe I’ve been carrying! (The player marks the load box for their heavy weapon, which counts toward their load total.) I’m going to Skirmish, keeping my distance and using the length of my weapon to keep me safe while using the armor piercing spike on the back of the axe head to attack.”

This fictional approach is very different, and the gm might respond by setting the position and effect to something more favorable to the pc. “How about risky/lesser? You’re keeping your distance and minding your defense, but this thing’s armor is intense. It’s not going to buckle easily under your attacks, even with a pole axe.”

The player could accept those stakes and roll, or they could look at pushing for effect, trading position for effect, or using special abilities or teamwork to change things. All of these options come from/add to the fictional situation.

In the situation above, maybe the crew’s spider says, 'I do a set up action in a flash back! I met with one of my contacts before the score and learned about this hull – I know its weak spot!" With a successful consort roll, this could be a big help to the cutter. Maybe the effect is now standard, giving them the chance to do some real damage.

Wow, these are great responses and extremely helpful to me as a new GM with this system. Thank you so so much for these detailed explanations.

This game seems like a textbook example of Yoda’s advice of “unlearn what you have learned” (I’ve been a GM of many systems for 30 years now)

I’m beginning to understand I think that this is tremendously freeing for a GM to be able to craft a narrative with the players.